I feel like I keep seeing these New York Times’ and Curbed articles about people who love the Upper West Side. And then I feel extremely grateful that the prior few bidders on my apartment didn’t know how to fill out a board application and I was – or my broker was, to be clear, because that shit is complicated.
I live within a couple of blocks of the water and two massive parks. I live two blocks from the best bagels in the city (not my words, everyone else’s), I have some awesomebars, Columbia’s sprawling, green campus, an adorable independent pet store that comes complete with an adorable pet store kitten, Book Culture, The Hungarian Pastry Shop, and a Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Westside Market. And lots of trains.
I love my ‘hood and I am very fortunate to be able to live here.
This weekend was oh-so nice. It started on Friday night when J and I went down to The Library (the bar at the Public) to celebrate his birthday with his friends, many of whom I just adore. It was super fun, though we both probably consumed far too much alcohol.
We ordered in carb-loaded breakfasts from my local diner the next morning to fight our hangovers before going to see Avenue Q at New World Stages. It was my first time seeing it since 2005 or 2006 and it totally holds up. I’ll write about it more in depth later on but it’s still so great. J loved it SO, SO much. He couldn’t stop talking about it the entire weekend. Now he’s all, “I’m sure Hamilton’s great, but is it funnier than Avenue Q? Probably not.”
He had to run home and I had to go home to see my cat and take a nap, but we met back up later on to go meet his friend from DC who he hadn’t seen in 3 years. We attempted to go to Flatiron Hall, but it was packed, so we went across the street to a mostly-empty bar (I can’t remember the name) and didn’t leave until probably 1am. So late. It was so exhausting but it was fun. (I nursed one beer the entire time because the thought of drinking more hurt my face.)
Sunday included a trip to Book Culture to take advantage of their 20% off sale. I hate buying books simply because they’re cheap, but I bought a Kon Mari-esque book called The Joy of Less, Yes Please by Amy Poehler, and Just Kids by Patti Smith. I cooked this sausage/kale/carrot noodle soup from the Inspiralized blog (it’s SO GOOD) and we watched “The Invasion” on HBOGo (it was entertaining and I’d recommend watching it if you’re bored, though it was 100% ridiculous).
After an hour or so in the gym, I made sausage/carrot noodle/spinach/siracha rice wraps. So good. The rice wrap is kind of hard to handle but worth it not to have all the carbs of a regular wrap.
We ended the night watching Show Business and later watching Game of Thrones (he watched, I played with my cat). I hadn’t watched Show Business in so long. It brought back so many good memories. To my shock and delight, J found it super interesting and loved seeing the progression of Avenue Q, in addition to watching Raul Esparza do theatre (currently he only knows him as DA Barba on SVU).
One of my favorite things about New York is wandering. You never know what hole-in-the-wall restaurant/bar/bakery/shop is around the corner just waiting to be discovered.
Saturday started out almost exactly like every other morning: get up (though a couple of hours later, of course), go to the gym, shower, eat, etc. Of course it was all much slower and more relaxed because I didn’t have to go to the office, duh. Anyways, I digress, around 1:30 I made my way to Times Square to meet Justin and see when the earliest date we could buy tickets for Hamilton was. Spoiler alert: It was far away, so now I’m planning on going through my contacts to try to pull strings for house seats in a couple of months. We’ll see what happens.
We walked over to 44th and 10th Ave to try pizza from Claudio’s after hearing it was good on RG. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but probably not worth the walk to 10th Avenue to Times Square. Still: good to check it off the list.
mmmmmmm, health food.
After pizza, Justin wanted sneakers so we headed down to SoHo to Under Armour. After successfully procuring the aforementioned basketball sneakers. we wandered down and around SoHo. I saw the graffiti below somewhere south of Houston and Mercer but I can’t remember the exactly location. Can someone do this in my apartment? I couldn’t get a good photo of it either because some tourist was trying to take her best casually-walking-with-my-latte-in-front-of-some-gritty-street-art-how-cool-am-I selfie. Spoiler: tourist + selfie-stick = not cool.
We wandered to Broome Street to Black Tap Burger and thought there was no line when we walked in, but the line was actually outside around the corner and down 6th Avenue. So completely ridiculous. We aborted mission and popped into Broome Street Bar for sustenance instead.
Our last stop on our wanderings we decided would be Meow Parlour. I had no idea what the wait would be like but we wandered for a while (it’s probably a mile or maybe more from Broome/6th to Hester/Ludlow), passing through streets and around corners that we were both unsure whether or not we’d ever passed through before in 10+ years of residency in New York. It’s definitely gritty in some parts, hipster-ish in some parts, and gross in others. Upon arriving, we were told there was a list and it could be up to 45 minutes to an hour. They had a cafe you could wait in around the corner, we headed there and a few minutes after receiving our lattes, we were called back.
This place is worth a separate post, but here’s one photo to hold you over:
That’s Matt, a Maine Coon cat and so pretty. Here are the other cats we hung out with. I wanted to take him home with me but he was kind of skiddish. He’d give you a few minutes of petting time before running away.
We journeyed home on the D train and stopped for dinner and a drink at Amsterdam Tavern before calling it a night. As the weather gets nicer again, I look forward to having more of these days because I think if you’re living here and not exploring on a regular basis, you should probably just save your money and live in the suburbs.
The Hamilton: A Gushing Review
I’ve talked about The Hamilton a couple of times already around these parts. It’s the new whiskey bar that has replaced The ‘Dam on Amsterdam between 109th and 110th. It’s cozy and the bartenders are Scottish and amazingly friendly. Mike, the owner, is incredibly funny and welcoming. He named this spot The Hamilton because Alexander Hamilton was of Scottish descent and he attended Columbia University.
It’s also CHEAP. Especially for brunch. Nothing is over $15 and each dish comes with a drink. So far I’ve tried to the dutch pancake (left), the shakshuka (middle), the biscuits and gravy, and the bacon & cheese burger. My boyfriend once had the egg sandwich and said it was great, so there’s that, too.
As previously mentioned, all of the food was being photographed by the chef’s friend (right), hence how I was able to try the burger.
If a blizzard hits this weekend, and I need to get out of the house due to cabin fever, you will definitely be able to find me here.
(No, this isn’t a paid post. At all. You could say I received a free ¼ of a burger for it, but not really.)
And it’s beginning to snow.
After an unsuccessful trip to the Pace University bookstore in the Financial District (they close at 4pm, wtf), I grabbed a drink some fried zucchini sticks at SoHo Park with an old co-worker (but first I raided the book closet and took those four books). It was so, so good to see her – as well as some of my other former colleagues that I ran into. She’s trying her damnedest to get out of the city ASAP and even though I’ll miss her like whoa, I know she’d be happier back in New England.
On Saturday morning, I went to my usual grueling vinyasa class and I’d like to say that my workout attire was called The Kim Davis, as it included as many clashing patterns and colors as possible. But damn was I warm. The rest of the day was spent grocery shopping, going back down to FiDi to purchase my sweatshirt, and cooking cauliflower fried rice for my dude and me. We watched the movie Unfriended on HBOGo and it was BAD. Don’t do it. Bad acting, bad direction, bad photography direction, bad story, just bad.
I met up for a pre-birthday (his!) brunch with Ben on Sunday afternoon at The Hamilton and we ended up being invited to try a bunch of dishes because they were being photographed. The owner, Mike, was bartending and he is Scottish and insanely cool. He also owns Caldeonia Bar on the UES. The Hamilton will become a regular neighborhood spot of mine for sure. It snowed unexpectedly on Sunday night and after some quality gym time, my dude convinced me (it didn’t take a lot of convincing, honestly) to watch some football at Amity Hall (Uptown) – also a really solid new neighborhood spot.
I tortured both him and myself by watching the Democractic debates – and I figured out how to use my HDMI converter cable which I finally purchased – on Sunday night. I know pretty much everything they already said. I’m 100% over politics. #feelthebern
More snow this weekend! So stoked.
Yesterday evening after work I met Ben for a beer at Dive 75 on West 75th Street. They have assorted board games and when I saw Connect 4, I pulled it out and proceeded to beat Ben about 20 times (he won a few too).
Fittingly it was the 17th anniversary since a car accident that I was in when I was 11 (almost 12) in 1997. I wrote about it once on here in 2009, but the tl:dr version: I was in a car accident in California, I suffered a traumatic brain injury (insert joke here), and I was in a coma for two weeks before waking up and needing two months of rehab to re-learn how to do everything again.
I graduated from elementary school that year with honors in math. Take that, TBI.
ANYWAYS. While i was in the hospital, I played a LOT of Connect 4 with my occupational therapist and basically anyone who would humor me (which was almost everyone). I got really, really good at it. Well, after last night, I’m pretty sure I still got it. It’s all a game of strategy.
The only thing that makes Connect 4 more interesting now? Beer.
I recently realized, upon recognizing that I have no plans for the Fourth of July, that the best part of this “getting older” thing was Not Giving a Shit.
All throughout college, and even for a few years later, there were a few nights every year where I just had to have plans to feel cool. These nights included New Years Eve, Halloween, Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July.
Now I view these days as days where something fun may go down, but they’re mostly just excuses to drink heavily at huge parties with lots of people who you probably don’t know and will never see again. This is why I don’t put much weight in making plans for these momentous occasions anymore.
One of my good friend’s and his fiancee have a New Years Eve party every year that’s rather low key and lovely. And if I feel the need to eat BBQ on the Fourth or Memorial Day, I can order it (or cook it! – which has never happened but I know I’m capable of it).
When I see the Instagrams of girls in their early twenties getting dressed up to eventually be blacking out in the early hours of the next morning, I think, “Oh, it was fun, for sure,” when I didn’t know any better, but I’m glad as f*ck that it’s not my life anymore.
On Friday night, Matt gathered a group of people like he usually does and we headed to the 7:30 show at Comix on 14th and 9th. The show was great, and afterward Paul said he knew of a bar nearby that we should go to. I was almost ready to jump ship at 14th and 8th, but I’m glad I didn’t. After lots of u-turns and iPhone consulting, we finally found our way to Orient Express on West 11th Street.
We grabbed the three tables-for-two in the front window and gazed at the menu. The drinks were expensive but potent so they were well worth it. We kept insisting, “This is our last one!” Famous. last. words. So, then we ordered more. "I’m going to spend all of my money on alcohol tonight!“ were other famous last words spoken multiple times. There were lots of showtunes sung, laughter was abundant, and friends were made.
The bar never got too crowded, as so many others are on Friday nights, so it was a relaxing night. We finally decided to leave at 2am (probably because of our dwindling bank accounts). I would definitely go back next time I’m with a group of people who don’t mind spending more than $5 on a drink.
All in all, a perfect Friday night.
Orient Express is located at 325 West 11th Street.
Last week I met up with my best friend, Jess, and her sister, Dina, for an early dinner. Jess was craving beer and ample amounts, so when I discovered that Fred’swasn’t opened until 5pm, we walked a few blocks to George Keeley’s.
I’d only been to George Keeley’s once before and it was on a Friday night, so food wasn’t really the main event. I remembered that they did one thing well: wings.
I convinced the girls to get wings and they were happy I did because they were very, very good. I wish I could say the same for my quesadilla but I cannot. It was gross, and the portion size was disgustingly big. I didn’t try any of my friend’s dishes, but they didn’t look too appetizing either.
In conclusion: If you’re looking for good (or decent) bar food, George Keeley’s is not the spot. I’d recommend going up to what I’ve lovingly dubbed Dochebag Row (both Brother Jimmy’s and Jake’s Dilemma are on that block) and pop in to grab a bite at The Dead Poet, where the food is much tastier and though the crowd does get a little ridiculous and kind-of douchebaggy, it’s a much nicer atmosphere than most of the bars you’ll find in that area.
Super Dive is officially moving to Murray Hill to take its rightful place with the other douchey banker bars. In the year it’s been open, I’ve still yet to go in. The one time I had plans to go it ended up being closed down for a benefit. That was the day that I learned you don’t bring a guy to a bar where you are going to know half of the people who walk in the door (we ended up at Destination, obviously), because it leads to many awkward conversations after.
The only thing that worries me now is that all of Super Dive’s clientele is going to relocate themselves to Destination… We shall see!